Hugo Williams 

Shadow Pack

Business as usual?

The same again, landlord?
The mixture as before?
Or is everything different
now that everything exists
in a shadow pack?
I think about Portugal sometimes,
as if it were still there.

Either I draw the curtains
shutting out the light,
or I draw the curtains
letting in the night.
When the moon lays
two sheets of writing paper
on my bedroom floor,
I dwindle south in a sort of boat.

I’ll never forget
the eager doing of nothing,
rolling it into balls
and placing them on shelves
the way we used to at the office.
I don’t go there any more,
for I have gained
a poor understanding of time.

It darts about the place
in a pattern of lightning flashes:
a piebald, then a skewbald face,
expressing horror.

From a certain angle
it looks like a pantomime horse.
I turn it inside out
in case there is happiness in it.

I don’t feel so confident
when a little broken shadow
creeps into my room.
I wonder what’s the matter
with 60 watt bulbs these days.
They don’t seem to light up
the way they used to.
I put it down to faulty wiring.

Hugo Williams
was born in 1942 and grew up in Sussex. He worked on The London Magazine from 1961 to 1970, since then he has earned his living as a journalist and travel writer. Billy’s Rain won the T.S. Eliot Prize in 1999. His Collected Poems was published by Faber in 2002 and his last collection, Lines Off was published in 2019. He writes a freelance column for the TLS and lives in London.

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